As explosive as the White Sox’ lineup is, it hasn’t been without its stragglers. On Tuesday, Nomar Mazara and Edwin Encarnacion were left behind, for one night’s starting lineup anyway.
The left-handed-hitting Mazara has been given every opportunity to contribute with 28 starts in right field but is hitting a soft .223/.298/.272 with no home runs. Adam Engel, who bats right, started against right-hander Randy Dobnak.
Manager Rick Renteria said he “wanted to give Mazara a chance to take a step back and give Engel the opportunity to get a few at-bats.”
“We still hope Mazara is able to kind of settle in,” Renteria said.
Engel, batting .294/.333/.441, had the game-winning hit in the eighth inning of the Sox’ 3-1 win in the series opener against the Twins on Monday and is the superior option defensively.
Mazara is 2-for-19 in his last six games.
“I haven’t figured that out,” hitting coach Frank Menechino said Sunday of Mazara’s hitting struggles. “He’s in between mechanics sometimes. He’s in between approach sometimes. There’s gotta be some kind of pressing going on in there. So, you know, to really pinpoint it, I can’t.’’
Belief in Encarnacion
With James McCann, who was batting .316/.372/.539, catching Dane Dunning, catcher Yasmani Grandal was the designated hitter. Renteria has rotated Grandal into the lineup at first base and DH.
Encarnacion, signed to a one-year, $12 million deal in the offseason, has eight home runs but is batting .168/.265/.403. The 37-year-old needs four homers to tie Billy Williams (426) for 51st all time and is third behind Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera among active home-run leaders but isn’t making a strong case to have his club option picked up next season.
Renteria voiced confidence in Encarnacion, though.
“I just want him to take a seat right now, let Yasmani get into that one and see how it plays out today,” Renteria said. “As we move forward, we’ll continue to be flexible. Eddie’s a big part of us. He’s a big part in that clubhouse; he’s a big part in the lineup. I think anytime you see a veteran like him standing in the box, anything can happen in a given moment. He’s someone to be feared.”
Encarnacion has six home runs in his last 18 games but is 13-for-85 (.153) in his last 24 games.
Fry returns from IL; Flores optioned
The Sox got some experience back in their bullpen when they reinstated left-hander Jace Fry from the 10-day injured list and optioned lefty Bernardo Flores Jr. to the Schaumburg training facility. Fry, who had been on the IL since Sept. 5 (retroactive to Sept. 3) with back spasms, pitched 1⅓ scoreless innings in relief of Dunning, striking out four and walking one. He lowered his ERA to 3.29. Fry is riding a scoreless streak of 9⅔ innings with 15 strikeouts in his last 10 games.
Flores, 24, made his major-league debut at Kansas City on Sept. 3 and appeared in one additional game, allowing two earned runs in two innings. He has been used almost exclusively as a starter in the minor leagues.
Fry has been used primarily as a middle reliever in 152 appearances for the Sox since 2017.